NJ district innovates purchasing system

The Newark Public Schools District is the largest and one of the oldest school systems in New Jersey. The district serves approximately 40,000 students in 75 schools ranging from Pre-K to twelfth grade, and employs approximately 7,500 staff within the schools and Central Office.

In an effort to streamline its ordering process, the district recently embarked on an innovative joint venture by integrating its purchasing systems with that of education company Pearson. One of the first of its kind nationwide, the new arrangement links Newark’s 75 schools directly to the Pearson’s online ordering platform. Through this collaboration, Newark’s educators can order learning products and programs at the district’s contracted prices.

The new paperless feature went online in April and is the equivalent of a person ordering books via the Internet, but with school budget limits and purchasing codes in place to prevent mistakes.

“As New Jersey’s largest school district, the Newark Public Schools is saving time and money by embarking on this new purchasing feature,” said Newark Public Schools Chief Financial Officer/School Business Administrator Valerie V. Wilson.

Newark Public Schools Director of Purchasing Joyce Lee said said the new system eliminates the need to maintain online catalogues and mail out price lists. It also eliminates typing errors and mailing costs, since purchase orders are transmitted to the vendor’s ordering system the same day they are approved. School administrators can see item availability at the time the order is created, and they automatically receive email confirmations from Pearson when orders are received and shipped.

Pearson anticipates additional system-to-system connections will be made with other school districts to achieve similar savings throughout the country.

“Through this system, we’re harnessing technology to ensure Newark’s learners have their materials in a timely, cost-effective manner," said Pearson’s CEO of K-12 Curriculum Peter Cohen. " And, we’re confident that other districts throughout the nation can benefit from a similar system-to-system connection.”